National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration (NAFDAC) yesterday raided a three-bed apartment in Asaba, the Delta State capital, where drugs are allegedly counterfeited and packaged for unsuspecting consumers.
N40 million worth of assorted counterfeit drugs was uncovered at the apartment located on Charles Edozien Avenue where one Mr. Paul Osita Eli was arrested as the alleged owner of the illegal business.
Eli, aged 32 and a graduate of Management Science from the University of Nigeria, Nsuka, was alleged to be tagging the counterfeited drugs with mobile authentication numbers.
The drugs found in the 3-bedroom apartment included Maloxine, Lumatem (anti-maleria drugs), LOFNAC (for body pain relief), Buscomac (for stomach pain relief) and Rysovin (anti-fungal drug); alongside already printed mobile authentication numbers.
But the suspect who hails from Anambra State denied knowledge that the drugs were fake, saying that he does the packaging of the drugs after receiving them from his Lagos-based business associate, one Chubuike, who imports the drugs from India.
Explaining that he distributes the drugs as far as Kano through another partner in Sabongari, the suspect also denied NAFDAC’s claim that the drugs found in his possession was worth over N40 million, noting that the drugs were worth a little above N1 million.
Meanwhile, chairman of the Federal Taskforce on Counterfeit and Fake Drugs and Unwholesome Process Foods of the agency, Mr. Kingsley Ejiofor, said the suspect was tracked as a result of complaints from consumers.
Ejiofor, who is the Acting Director, Investigation and Enforcement Directorate, NAFDAC, urged members of the public to report any suspected counterfeiting activity.
“People should shine their eyes so that they know what their neighbours are doing because this could have just gone unnoticed if someone did not report to NAFDAC.
“The one that is mind-boggling is the anti-malaria drugs. You know NAFDAC came up with this mobile authentication service. And when you find this panel, you scratch and send it to a particular number. Now it appears that the counterfeiters have taken advantage of the fact that when people see this panel [they think]that is enough, and will not go the extra mile to scratch and send.
“We are, therefore, [informing]members of the public that it is not enough for you to buy the drug with the panel on it. Go the extra mile by scratching and sending it to the number indicated and if there is no response don’t buy. It might be counterfeit,” he warned.
Ejiofor said it took NAFDAC less than one week to track the suspect after it got the tip-off, insisting that drugs were, indeed, fake and that they were worth over N40 million.
He said the suspect would be arraigned in Court as soon as possible, and assured that the agency was out to safeguard the health of the nation, maintaining that they would not rest until the scourge of fake drugs and food was eliminated from our dear Nation